Liam Finn – FOMO (Liberation)

Those who enjoyed the slightly-skewed pop sensibilities found on Liam Finn’s debut solo effort, 2007’s I’ll Be Lightning, will be happy to find that Liam’s fondness for twisting a pop hook is still with him.

When Liam and his new band, The Come Agains (Elroy Finn, drums; Jeremy Toy, bass; Joel Mulholland, guitar),  played a couple of warm-up shows in Auckland a few months ago they sounded like a revved-up power pop band. But aside from one track, the fuzzed-out Jump Your Bones that closes the set, none of the Come Agains appear on FOMO. Like the previous album, Liam handles most of the instruments himself, with Wilco’s Glenn Kotche adding a couple of drum loops and Jeremy Toy playing bass on Chase The Seasons. Finn’s collaborator in the studio was co-producer Burke Reid (formerly of Aussie band Gerling). The two of them conjure up some stunning sounds that, along with Finn’s excellent songs, make this collection a fine follow-up to I’ll Be Lightning.

In case you’re wondering, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out” which,  according to the accompanying press release, is how Liam feels a good part of the time. He and his extended musical family are constantly on the go, but often wish they were elsewhere. That sentiment worms its way into Finn’s songs. The opening track, Neurotic World, captures Liam’s feeling of returning to New Zealand after touring the world for the last couple of years. Musically, it was written on the piano and starts with a blast of mute feedback before Liam’s echo-laden vocals come in. Meanwhile a layer of electronica runs throughout the track.

Roll Of The Eye also addresses his life in New Zealand. The 1950s-style ballad finds Finn feeling a bit claustrophobic in his tiny homeland after spending time in the Big Apple. The track breaks into a thrilling explosion of drums and guitar at the end, giving the feeling of a spontaneous rush of emotion.

It seems that Liam’s love life is going swimmingly. There are several straight-out love songs peppered throughout the record. Don’t Even Know Your Name finds him singing about “love at first sight” over an urgent drum beat, while Cold Feet is a sweet, sentimental love song with some lovely power pop tendencies.

Real Late, with a Kotche-created drum loop, is moody and quiet, but with a strong Finn melody and some interesting sounds sprinkled in…are those steel drums? Probably not.  Another ballad, Little Words, where he deletes photos of an ex-lover from his computer, contains some of the album’s best lyrics.

Reckless is a catchy rocker with a choppy rhythm and a killer guitar solo and Chase The Seasons, which was written fort the 7 Worlds Collide project, is an atmospheric pop confection in ¾ time.

So there it is, another sign that Liam Finn is more than living up to the family name, he’s making his own.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Cold Feet from FOMO